1886 Benz Motorwagen
The 1886 Benz Patent Motorwagen is widely regarded as the world’s first gasoline powered production automobile. Completed in 1885 by German inventor Karl Benz and patented the following year, approximately 25 were built between 1886 and 1893. Powered by a fast-running single-cylinder four-stroke engine, the Benz Patent Motorwagen can reach a top speed of just under 10 mph. The steel-spoked wheels and solid rubber tires were Benz’s own design. Benz chose the three wheeled design over four as it was lighter and more maneuverable. Steering was accomplished by way of a toothed rack that pivoted the front wheel. A simple belt system served as a single-speed transmission. Only one original example is known to exist today, and it currently sits in a German museum.
The replica at our museum is #20 of approximately 90 that were built to exacting standards by John Bentley in the United Kingdom who was given full access to the original patent details. These fully operational replicas were originally distributed via the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center to Mercedes-Benz dealerships. Today many can be found in museums and public exhibits for educational purposes. They are identical to the original in nearly every detail.